Saturday’s College Featured Matchup
CFB September 17, 2016
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Lamar Jackson has compiled 1,015 yards of total offense and accounted for 13 touchdowns in less than two full games for Louisville, so it goes without saying Florida State wouldn’t mind having all hands on deck defensively. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case for the second-ranked Seminoles.
Preseason All-American sophomore safety Derwin James suffered a cartilage tear in his left knee against FCS foe Charleston Southern last weekend. He will be sidelined indefinitely. Although the Seminoles will be shorthanded defensively, they should have more than enough firepower on the other side of the ball to stick with FBS’ highest-scoring team thus far, as running back Dalvin Cook has already accounted for 284 total yards and two touchdowns in limited action. While Cook has done nothing to hurt his campaign for the Heisman Trophy, Jackson has raced out to an early lead in that regard by ranking third in the country in rushing (318 yards) and eighth in passing (697) while leading Louisville to an average of 66 points in routs over Charlotte and Syracuse.
#25 Miami (2-0) vs Appalachian State (1-1)
After two one-sided victories, No. 25 Miami faces its first true test Saturday against a dangerous Appalachian State team in what is sure to be a hostile environment. The Hurricanes have shown signs of being ready for such a test, having dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. After depending on junior Brad Kaaya’s arm to carry the offense for two seasons, the Hurricanes are averaging 326 yards a game rushing while the defense has allowed only 34.5 yards on the ground to rank first in the nation despite starting a front seven dominated by freshmen and sophomores. Those young guys will face a big test against the Mountaineers, who are run-first team and feature one the nation’s best running backs in senior Marcus Cox, who entered the season with 4,088 yards rushing and has added 248 yards already this season.
#22 Oregan (2-0) vs Nebraska (2-0)
Mike Riley watched his Oregon State teams drop seven straight “Civil War” games to Oregon before he bolted for Nebraska in December of 2014. It should come as no surprise if the usually mild-mannered coach is a bit more amped up this week. He will get his chance to end his frustration against a familiar foe Saturday when his Cornhuskers host the 22nd-ranked Ducks in the first meeting between the schools in nearly 30 years.
Oregon have been solid starters, enjoying a plus-42 margin before the halftime break only to outscore their foes by one point over the final 30 minutes in its two home triumphs. Although they are sporting their usual offensive proficiency (eighth in FBS in total offense, tied for 14th in scoring offense), the Ducks are ranked 80th in scoring defense and 82nd in total defense despite playing a FCS opponent (UC Davis) and a struggling FBS squad (Virginia).
Ole Miss sets its sights on knocking off top-ranked Alabama for the third consecutive season when the No. 19 Rebels host the defending national champions in the SEC opener for both teams. Crimson Tide Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts still hasn’t been declared the starting quarterback over redshirt freshman Blake Barnett but it is heading in that direction after Hurts passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday’s victory over Western Kentucky. While it’s unclear who will start at quarterback for Alabama, the same can’t be said for Ole Miss. Senior quarterback Chad Kelly passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns while fueling last season’s win at Alabama and he has thrown for 532 yards and seven touchdowns in this season’s first two games.
Pittsburgh (2-0) vs Oklahoma State (1-1)
After one of the most bizarre finishes in college football history, Oklahoma State need to return their focus to the football field this week. The previously 17th-ranked squad cannot afford to falter against Pittsburgh. The Cowboys most recent contest turned ugly for them after a misinterpreted rule extended the game. One untimed down allowed the Chippewas to score the winning touchdown on a Hail Mary and lateral. Mike Gundy’s squad tried to kill the final four seconds of the game by throwing the ball away on fourth down with time expired, but they were incorrectly penalized for intentional grounding, setting up the 51-yard play. Pittsburgh is seeking to boost its top-25 credentials by starting 3-0 for just the fourth time since 2000.